Gen. Bar-lev Says Arab Terrorism Could Lead to War if Not Checked

Gen. Chaim Bar-Lev, Israel’s Chief of Staff, said that Arab terrorist activities against Israel might spark a new Middle East war and that prevention of a conflict would depend on Israel’s ability to check such operations. He made the statement after meeting with military correspondents. Gen. Bar-Lev said that the current situation had three possible outcomes — peace, war and continuation of the present situation. He said peace appeared remote because the Arabs were “simply uninterested” in it. He expressed the belief that the Egyptians would choose war as a solution if Egypt could not achieve its goals politically. He predicted that Egypt would go to war only when its leaders were convinced they had military superiority over Israel. He added that if Egypt did resume major war action, he was convinced that “we will achieve those targets that would ensure our security in the broad meaning of this word.”

Gen. Bar-Lev said that the third prospect, continuation of the existing situation, was difficult but that Israel would be able “to stand through it.” He declared there was no “absolute reply” to the attacks by terrorists but that there were ways to reduce such actions to a minimum. He also said that while Israel had created defensive positions along the Suez Canal and the Jordanian cease-fire line, this action did not mean that the Army had “dug in” to fight only a defensive war. He said the Army was geared for “an offensive defense.”

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